Friday, February 2, 2018

WOTUS



Washington--The Environmental Protection Agency will publish new “waters of the United States” rules under the Clean Water Act in April or May, with a final rule coming by the end of the year, according to EPA Director Scott Pruitt.

Pruitt made the comment in front of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee earlier this week and was criticized by Democrats and praised by Republican members. It's the first time Pruitt appeared before the EPW since his confirmation hearing exactly a year ago. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation applauded the action by the U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers delay of the vague rule that expansively defined ‘waters of the United States. 

"That rule would have put a stranglehold on ordinary farming and ranching by treating dry ditches, swales and low spots on farm fields just like flowing waters. Without the action, countless farmers and ranchers, as well as other landowners and businesses, would risk lawsuits and huge penalties for activities as common and harmless as plowing a field," said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall.

Director Pruitt offered optimistic predictions in front of the committee of how quickly his agency will repeal and replace the WOTUS rule, known by its supporters as the Clean Water Rule. At a hearing last June,  the Director said a new rule would be in place by the end of March.

EPA has taken comments on its proposal to rescind WOTUS but has not officially rescinded the rule.

In an exchange with Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Pruitt said adopting a new WOTUS rule would not be an example of deregulation “in the traditional sense.” Instead, he said, “We will be providing regulatory certainty because there are steps being taken to provide a substitute for WOTUS.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, thanked Pruitt for “providing key commitments to maintain the letter and the spirit of the Renewable Fuel Standard.” But she also wanted to know the status of EPA’s review of Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements that prevent the selling of higher blends of ethanol year-round.Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa

Pruitt said EPA is looking at whether it has the authority to expand the waiver for E15. “It’s not really a policy issue,” but a legal one, he said, telling Ernst, “We look forward to getting that answer very soon.”

Two farm-state senators credited Pruitt’s deregulatory actions with increasing their states’ employment rolls. Fischer said Nebraska's 2.7 percent unemployment rate is a direct result of Pruitt’s efforts at EPA “to streamline the regulatory process that has for many years negatively impacted job creators’ ability to hire workers because they were forced to allocate resources to comply with many cumbersome regulations.”

Ernst said Pruitt’s “back-to-basics approach has helped Iowa’s unemployment rate dip below 3 percent for the first time since the year 2000.”

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